Remember that a message, once sent, cannot be retrieved or amended.

Good practice guide: email

This good practice guide is designed to ensure that the University, its staff and its students do not send email that will cause offence or be exposed to litigation for improper use of email.

Sending email

You should be aware that a message, once sent, cannot be retrieved or amended. It is therefore good practice to pause for a brief second to review the structure, spelling and wording of the message and ask yourself what your reaction would be if you received it, before finally committing to send it.

Tone and content

University policy and the law on matters of harassment, defamation etc apply with the same force to email as they do to other forms of communication. Care must be taken to avoid any form of wording in an email message which could cause offence.

Email does not provide any of the normal moderating features of interpersonal communications such as a smile, tone of voice or body language and it is very easy for offence to be given without intention. Email messages should be composed in neutral language and care is needed to avoid any words or construction which could be construed as bullying or harassment by the recipient.

Messages should not contain passages which are set out in capitals as this may well be interpreted by the recipient as SHOUTING.

Receiving and replying to email

If a message is received which appears to be unreasonable or inappropriate, always pause and reflect before making a reply. The ‘reply all’ function should be used with caution.

If a message is received which is grossly offensive, or completely out of character with the name of the sender given, bear in mind that forging an email address is not difficult and the message may be the work of a prankster.

What to do if things go wrong

If an email message is received which is grossly offensive or includes any element of bullying or harassment, then the matter should be dealt with in line with the University Dignity and Respect Policy.

Related guidance

The University position on all matters of harassment and bullying is fully set out in the Dignity and Respect Policy.

See also email top tips